The California Fish and Game Commission unanimously voted to amend its policy regarding striped bass, setting up a potential decline in the fish that is popular amongst anglers due to its propensity to grow up to 60 pounds.
In 1996, the state committed to sustaining a large striped bass population, with the goal of keeping around 1 million throughout the state, especially in the Delta. With the policy being amended, the fish could see a sharp decline and send a ripple effect throughout the state’s waterways.
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The amendment has been advocated by Chinook salmon conservationists and Central Valley farmers for years now. The large striped bass prey on salmon and Delta smelt, inspiring environmental regulations on the Delta pumping stations that send water to farmers and Southern California. Now, it is believed those regulations will be limited.
“The commission is trying to update an old policy and strike a balance between the native fish and striped bass, which is not native, but has certainly been around a long time,” said commission spokeswoman Jordan Traverso.
The policy amendment has been staunchly opposed and supported by both sides of the aisle. Fishing enthusiasts worry that the decline in bass populations throughout the state will significantly hinder their sport. Meanwhile, Central Valley farmers have used Chinook salmon in the hopes that they will see more relaxed environmental regulations in the Delta.
In the end, the commission decided to help protect the native salmon instead of the non-native bass. They didn’t define the number of striped bass it hopes to keep in the state, but maintains it will stay committed to supporting the striped bass fishery.